Dr. Ed Young - The Presence of God
Everybody here would like to have the power of God at your disposal, in your repertoire. We need the power of God to help us in our business, helps us in our vocation, health challenges we might have. In any area of our life, all of us would love to have power. It's all about power. We want power to do this, power to do that. Permission to do this. All we need is power, power, power, more power, and the ark represented power. Even the power of Almighty God. Think about it. To have that kind of supernatural power, real power, immeasurable power, the power that would come from the ark.
In the Bible, power was always connected with something, or some event. We go back to Abraham and we see that it was a smoking pot and a burning torch. Power was there. We go back to Moses, he saw a bush that was burning, he saw it was a holy place. In that bush he saw power, even the power of Almighty God. Jacob saw power in a wrestler in which he grappled with all night long. Job saw power in a hurricane and a wind in a tornado. But in these illustrations of power, they're all the way through the Bible, the power would work there with the bush, but he didn't stay with the bush. The power work than a tornado, it wasn't always in a tornado.
But the one thing in the Bible, that power was manifested, it would come and it would go, but he would go back to the ark, the ark of the covenant. You read 1st Samuel 4:6-7, and you see there about the ark. What was the ark? Let me remind you, the ark was a box that was 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet. Steven Spielberg made it way too large in the movie incidentally, but we won't be too particular. On the top of the box acacia wood covered in gold, two cherubim, two angels facing one another. In the middle was the mercy seat, a block of gold. Inside the ark, what do you have? Aaron's rod that budded. A little sample in a box of manna, and you have primarily, the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments was the covenant that God had made with Israel. And therefore you have, in this place, the shekinah, you have the glory of God. It would come and go with the ark and the ark represented power, God's power, divine power. We know how it was used. It was used there when they came to the Jordan and it was strong, strong and deep, and they took the ark out of the Jordan and the Jordan River parted, as had before, the sea. They got to Jericho. They had those high walls around. They had no way to get in. They took the ark and marched it around the walls. The walls came tumbling down. This was known to people all through that area, the ark of God, the Yahweh. And the Jews believe for a while, that God was in the box, in the ark, and then they come came to believe that God was actually the box itself.
And so we see the history of the ark and we bring it into play in these fabulous chapters that teach us about the very power of God himself. So look at it. Beginning in chapter number 4, 1 Samuel. "Thus the word of Samuel came to Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped at Aphek". Now we see how Israel presumed the power of God. Did you get that? We're gonna see as we study this chapter how Israel had the ark and therefore, they presume, because they were God's chosen people, God's peculiar people, God's anointed people, God's called-out people, that they possessed the very power of God. And they went out to battle and they presumed on God.
Let me show you something you might be interested in. The Sunday prior to 9/11 in our worship services, we had 17,495 people. The next week, after 9/11, we had 36,229 people. We had 6,479 in a prayer meeting service following 9/11. Well what in the world happened? All the CEO Christians showed up. Christmas, Easter, only. And then all of a sudden, we in America recognize where we had all of our power in those twin towers. There were no buildings on the face he earth that had more the leaders and the economic world then in those twin towers, and they came down. Had the radical Muslim been success, they will destroy the Pentagon, where the military power the world, primarily was found. They destroyed only part of it. And at the other plane out the Whitehouse would've been level, because that's where the most powerful individual in the world would be.
So we saw in 9/11, how in, woosh, in just a few hours all the power structures that we would have as human beings would be gone. That which we count on as Americans. And therefore, flags were everywhere. Prayer meetings where everywhere, and worship services were packed to overflowing because somehow we were trying, though we'd assume the power on God. One nation under God? Really? And suddenly, one nation under God, it seems that all of our foundational, sacred or things were at risk. We turn to God seeking for power. We thought we had appropriated God, as had the Jews. Read what happened to them here in our Scripture.
It says, "The Philistines drew up their battle array to meet Israel and when the battle spread Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about 4,000 on the battlefield. When the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said," now follow this, "Why has the Lord," not the Philistines, "Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines"? You see they knew the Philistines could not feed them because they had apprehended God's power, they were God's peculiar people, God's blessed, God's chosen people. And they said, "The Lord must have led to our defeat".
Why is that? So they went out into the second battle but before they went into our second battle, look what they did. They said, "Let us take to ourselves some shallow, the ark of the covenant". Oh, they're gonna bring the ark into the battle. "That it may come along us and deliver us from the power of our enemies". The ark of God would be powerful, powerful than enemies of Israel. "So the people went to Shiloh," and by the way I was there this year, "and from there, they arrived, the ark of the covenant of the Lord to the host who sits above the cherubim and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were there with the ark of the covenant of God".
In the ark you have these two little rings where you can carry it in, and who was carrying the ark? Hophni and Phinehas. Who are they? They were the immoral, slimy, creepy, sexual predators who are priests, priest in the temple, the sons of Eli. Ladies and gentlemen, when a worshiping body allows immorality to rule and reign known in the public circle of God's people and the people do not rise up against that, let me tell you what is going on. It means the people themselves are satisfied with the immorality that passes itself long in the form of religion. Hophni and Phinehas sprang the ark in, what happened now? The ark is there, the power of God is there. Look what happened. "And so the Philistines," verse 10, "Fought Israel was defeated and every man fled to his tent, and the slaughter was very great for there fell Israel 30,000 foot soldiers".
Look what happened. "And the ark of God was taken. The Philistines have the ark and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died" in battle. What was wrong? Why did they lose? Because there was immorality in the land. Say, "Boy, it's unusual for them to lose". No. If you've been reading through the Bible, there has been 200 years in the book of Judges when God's people were immoral and disobedient to the covenant of God, the contract he had made with them there at the foot of Sinai. And therefore, they lost in the whole nation was going downhill rapidly. And then the end of this chapter we have an interesting thing.
Phinehas, one of the immoral priest, who was killed. His wife was pregnant, and before she delivered a child, she discovered that Eli had died. Hearing the news that his sons were killed, hearing the news that the ark had been taken, and Eli fell over backwards from the gate and broke his neck, a Godly prophet. But Phinehas, his wife bore a child but before she bore the child, she said, "Name that boy Ichabod". Which means the glory of God has departed from Israel. That's what we thought after 9/11. You know God has left our country. We're being judged because of our godliness and that's what she felt. "Name this boy Ichabod because the glory has left this land".
You see? What are the Israelites do? They presumed on the power of God. They said, "We've got the ark. We've got the power". Now the ark has been stolen, it's in the hands of Godless pagans. Whoa. Look at the next thing we learn about power. It's found is how the Philistines handled it. Look at chapter 5. By the way, we see the Philistines co-opted the power of God. What does that mean? They took the ark and they added it in their temple of worship to their other God, their primary God, Gorgon. And Gardon, they put the ark right bowed down by Gordon and look what happened there in their temple.
"Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. And the Philistines took the ark of God and thought it to be, and brought it in the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon". Listen to this. "And when the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him in place. When they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen to his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off. Only thing was left was a trunk of Dagon".
What happened? I'm sure the first time Dagon, there was the ark and Dagon fell down in the night on his face, and they must have went in and said, "You know some of those mischievous teenage Philistine boys have pushed over our God in this Holy Temple," and they picked him up and put him back. "We're going to find out who did this". But the next day they went down, Dagon had fallen on his face and his head had been severed. No wisdom. His arms were cut off. No power. And that tells us, not only was the God in the ark, the God of Israel, more powerful than Dagod, but we know that the God represented by the ark in Israel was actually the only true God. Because Dagon had no wisdom and had no power, was nothing, was pagan. And then we've got a problem. Here's the ark, Philistines had possessed the ark.
What's gonna happen when Godless people try to handle God and Godly things? We see in verse 6. "Now the hand of the Lord was heavy". By the word, the word heavy there is kabod. It is the glory, the hand of God, the glory of God, the presence of God was heavy on these people. And it says, "And they smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and his territories". Now Godless people were tryin' to handle the ark, the things of God, and it says in your translation, "Tumors". "They were smitten with tumors".
Another translation said all of 'em got hemorrhoids. True. In the Hebrew, they all had hemorrhoids. A better translation would be, the plague came. And they began to kill people and they were suffering because they had, what they perceived and what was a literal power of God, and they knew it came this judgment on them because of how they had handled the ark. And they had seen at their pagan god was powerless before him. They said, "What are you gonna do with the ark"? They said, "Okay. We'll pass the ark on". Look at verse 8. They sent to Gath, another one of the Philistine cities. What happened at Gath? The judgment came just like it did. They were stricken with bubonic plague, judgment came on them. The children of Gath said, "We don't want this thing. This is what we're gonna do with it"? And so they sent it to another Philistine city, Ekron.
See verse 10. And those in Ekron, they said, "We don't want the ark". And the judgment came on them. Until finally had a meeting of the Philistine, this is so interesting, in chapter 6. "And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, 'What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we shall send it to its place, send it back home.' And they said, 'If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty but you shall surely returned it with a guilt offering.'"
Now pagans feel guilty about how they're handling the things of God. Isn't that something? So they make some gold and silver, and they get a card, and look what happens. I love this story. Verse 7, chapter 6, 1 Sam: "Now, therefore, take and prepare a new cart, and too milch," that means cows that have recently calved. They're milking cows. "On which there has never been a yoke, and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves," listen to this, "back home, away from them. Take the ark of the Lord and put it in the cart, and put the articles of gold which you will return to them as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. Watch. If it goes up by the way of its own country toward Israel," that would be Beth-shemesh.
"Then he has done us this great evil". They will know that God has judged them. "But if not, then we'll know that it was not his hand, God's hand, that struck us. It happened to us by chance". What's goin' on here? They're crying to determine whether the ark and the way they dealt with the things of God had brought judgment upon them. Or was it just an accidental thing, that in their cities they had plagues, and they were dying. And they said, "We'll know for sure. We'll put this ark, this holy thing in a cart, and we'll get two cows that have just calved, they're feeding their calves, we'll take the cows awaiting their calves, we'll hitch them on the on the cart to pull the cart toward Israel".
And these cows had never been broken before, never had a yoke, and if they go on toward Israel, the Philistines knew this wasn't a chance thing, that judgment came on them. Because the ark was to be headed back home and anybody who knows anything about cattle, and I know about that much, those cows would have turned around and go back to their newborn calves. You couldn't have stopped them. But what did they do? They headed right for Beth-shemesh, right in the country of Israel. They headed back home with the ark and the Bible says, in verses I'll not read, they went back home, lowing, lowing loudly, taking the ark back to God's people.
And then God's people didn't handle it properly there and 70 of them died when they said, "Let me look inside, see the Ten Commandments still there". Bang. A holy thing and then the ark became a hot potato. You know, "What are we gonna do with it"? See they had co-opted the power of God. They wanted the power of God to be used for their pagan purposes. How do we apprehend the power of God? I'll tell you exactly how we do it. With the presence of God. It is only through the presence of God do we have then the power of God. We try to use the power of God, as did the Israelis, as did the Philistines, without having the presence of God. It never does work. It never does work.
Well, we asked a question then, "How do we get in the presence of God? How do we know we're in the presence of God"? There are always two or three things present that are connected with the very presence of God. First of all, unconditional commitment. You can't go in the presence of God without selling out to God, about giving him your hands, your feet, your mind, everything. You can't hold back anything. That's the first step to know the presence of God and remember, it is through the presence of God, we then have the power of God. So we go to him totally. We give ourselves totally to him. Completely to him. Holding nothing back from him.
Let me tell you something. If you have something you're talking to God about, praying to God about, and there is living sin in your life, or in my life, we're practicing sin in any way, shape, form or fashion, you're wasting your breath tryin' to talk to God and get his power to God operated in some area. You have to first of all deal with that brokenness, that sin in your life. That's what a total commitment is. "Lord, I want you to help. I want you to lead. I want you to forgive".
Oh no-no. Go right back to that thing which is wrong in your life. That has to be dealt with first. What had happened a long time ago doesn't matter, give it to God, let him deal with it. That has to be dealt with first and that is a total commitment. If you draw near to God and God draws near to us, we have to begin with surrender and commitment. Not one time, but I'm sure many times. First thing I do every morning, I hit my knees and I surrender. Every single day. For I go to bed at night, I hit my knees, I surrender. That is total commitment. That's the first step to drawing near to God. James says, "Draw near to God," and what? "He'll draw near to you".
It's a vital first step is complete surrender. The second step, have to destroy some idols. It may be a good thing. Your idol may be work, that's a good thing. But it has higher priority in the things of God, a good thing it become a bad thing. What is that you must have? What does the audience that you're living for? Who are those that we want to approve of us? They can become idolatrous. Anything. A house, money, positions, pleasure, sex can become an idol, and it takes the place of God.
So first of all we have to tear down those idols in order to draw near to God, and God to draw near to us. Complete surrender then there's the destruction of idols, and then what comes into play? The mercy seat. We have the idea, "Well, I can go and pray to God anytime. He's omnipresent". He is, but you and I can't pray anytime, because I am unclean and you are unclean, and we go to God and God is holy, and God will listen to only people who are holy. Ooh. You say, "Boy, I never, he'll never listen to me".
Let me tell you how holiness comes to every single one of us here. We go right back to the ark. The reason God would come to the ark and withdraw from the ark, and use power in the ark, and there was glory in the ark, and he would speak to the ark, because the ark tells us exactly how we get right with God. What happened? Once a year, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, court of the women, court of the gentiles, into the temple, the Holy place in the Holy of Holies, and there was the ark.
Remember what was in the ark: The Ten Commandments. What was on top of the ark? The two cherubim. What was between them? The mercy seat. What would the priests have to do when he went into the Holy place? He couldn't go in, in and of himself he was not holy, but he went in with a blood sacrifice, and the blood was put on the mercy seat. Why? Why? Is this some antique, O' ancient riddle in ritual? Oh, no. You see, the Commandments were there. The Ten Commandments were there and when we go before God, there's always that covenant, the ark of the covenant, there's those commandments and every one of us here has broken every single one of those commandments.
If you doubt that, we'll debate after church. Every one of us has broken every word of the Commandments. So we go to God and we know there is the covenant that we've broken. Therefore, there has to be the blood that covers, that covers that covenant, so we can do business with God. So the mercy seat is always involved. And so, we go as holy. You and I, we're holy when we've been there, and the blood of Jesus Christ hadn't been applied. You're holy and I'm holy, and God can deal with us and we can deal with God.
He can come near to us and we come near to him, and then his power begins to flow in our life because his power is always connected with his presence. How do we get his present? Total submission. How does that happen? We get rid of some idols, then we have to go to the mercy seat because you and I then become holy because Jesus who was holy, has shed the blood and protects us, and he is there as our mediator between us and that covenant that every one of us has broken.